A short article on passing the love of climbing from one generation to the next.
From a deeper perspective, the climbing community taught me how to believe in myself. It gave me the confidence that I needed at a fragile time in my life. I found comfort in the relaxed and welcoming way of life that so many climbers have come to know. As I worked through the process of developing myself into an athlete, I began to realize that it was okay to pursue my dreams.
Climbing made me strong. It gave me a physical strength that I never imagined was possible. Standing under my project with beads of sweat dripping down my face, my forearms burning and the endorphins racing through my blood all blended together and filled a void within myself that was once insatiable. I began to appreciate and respect my body. I fell in love with the athlete I was becoming. I learned how to tend to sore muscles, respect my recovery time and break the mental barriers of pushing myself to the next level when training at my peak.
My climbing coach became my best friend. He supported me through competition climbing and he introduced me to the world of projecting outdoors. From there he became my partner and six years later, my husband. We now have a child. She turned three yesterday.
I climbed with her in utero until labor declared itself. Two weeks later, I was on the wall again as I ripped through scar tissue and treaded lightly on my supple tendons. I climbed with her by my side and as she grew older, my husband and I continued to share with her our passion for climbing.
I believe that climbing will build her strength and confidence. It will give her something of substance that stands tall when moments in life become heavy. It will facilitate a healthy lifestyle. One where she loves and appreciates her body, eats healthy and indulges in relaxation, rest and recovery.
Most importantly, I believe that climbing will bring her happiness. Climbing is a natural bonding point for our family. It’s an activity where we support each other, laugh together and build memories.
It has taught her the importance of maturity. She often comes to the gym in the evenings and boulders with the adults before bedtime. We’ve been strict about being respectful in the gym and taking responsibility for following the rules. She has learned quickly that everyone takes turns climbing. She gets excited and cheers out words of encouragement as climbers work through difficult moves. Her exposure to the climbing community has enhanced her social skills. She is more than delighted to have a full conversation with just about anyone.
Climbing has already been a springboard to education when it comes to topics like conservation. She has been involved in events lead by The American Alpine Club (AAC) and Leave No Trace. We often talk about respecting our environment and doing no harm. She has been raised outside as we explore the mountains, deserts and canyons. She has swam in more creeks and lakes than she has swimming pools. She has seen bear, moose and bald eagles in the wild. We use these rare opportunities to capture her fascination with nature and enhance her learning.
“Teach me mama” are words that often come from her mouth. She has a genuine excitement for taking in and processing new information. As I teach her to slowdown and work through difficult routes, I can see that it has been beneficial in cultivating her patience.
Is she the best climber for her age? No, probably not.
Is she a great climber for what we, as parents, have facilitated? Yes.
Does it matter? No.
So what does matter? What matters is building a child that is grateful, humble, lively and at peace with herself.
I will support her in the direction of her dreams. I will guide her when she wanders off path. We will cry together, we will laugh together and we will grow together.
Yes, Ellie was birthed to stone. It is not something that she stumbled upon herself. She has two parents who love climbing and she too has now clearly fallen in love with climbing. Children are influenced by their surroundings, their experiences and the people around them. I want climbing to be an inspiration throughout her life; yet with balance in mind, I want her to feel free to leave and come back as often as she likes. I believe that climbing influenced her development in a beautiful way and I trust that it will bring her fulfillment, on a personal level, in the years to come.